21H.181 | Spring 2014 | Undergraduate

Libertarianism in History


Many of the readings for this course can be found in the following book:

[S] = Sandel, Michael J., ed. Justice: A Reader. Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780195335125. [Preview with Google Books]

Additional readings are listed in the table below.

1 Nuts and Bolts (What this Course is about) No readings assigned.
2 Some Contemporary Libertarian Controversies

Tanenhaus, Sam, and Jim Rutenberg. “Rand Paul’s Mixed Inheritance,” New York Times, January 25, 2014.

Rosen, Jeffrey. “Madison’s Privacy Blind Spot,” New York Times, January 18, 2014.

The Debate Over Income Inequality.” January 29, 2014.


Epstein, Richard A. “My Rand Paul Problem.” Defining Ideas, February 3, 2014.

Part One: Ideals of Freedom, Autonomy, and Civil Society
3 Roots of Modern Freedom (I): The Ancient and Medieval Periods

Patterson, Orlando. “The Ancient and Medieval Origins of Modern Freedom.” In The Problem of Evil: Slavery, Freedom, and the Ambiguities of American Reform. Edited by Steven Mintz and John Stauffer. University of Massachusetts Press, 2007. ISBN: 9781558495708. [Preview with Google Books]


Patterson, Orlando. Freedom, Vol. I: Freedom in the Making of Western Culture. Basic Books, 1992. ISBN: 9780465025329. [Preview with Google Books]

Arendt, Hannah. “What Is Freedom?” In The Portable Hannah Arendt. Edited with an introduction by Peter Baehr. Penguin Classics, 2003. ISBN: 9780142437568.

Sen, Amartya. “East and West: The Reach of Reason.” New York Review of Books, July 20, 2000.

4 Roots of Modern Freedom (II): The Early Modern Period

Skinner, Quentin. “A Third Concept of Liberty.” (PDF - 2.2MB) Proceedings of the British Academy 117 (2002): 237–68.


Skinner, Quentin. Liberty before Liberalism. Cambridge University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9781107689534. [Preview with Google Books]

———. Hobbes and Republican Liberty. Cambridge University Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780521714167. [Preview with Google Books]

Pettit, Phillip. “Keeping Republican Freedom Simple: On a Difference with Quentin Skinner.” Political Theory 30, no. 3 (2002): 339–56.

5 Revolutionary Liberty (I)

The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

Bailyn, Bernard. “Power and Liberty: A Theory of Politics.” Chapter 3 in The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Belknap Press, 1992. ISBN: 9780674443020. [Preview with Google Books]


Reid, John Philip. The Concept of Liberty in the Age of the American Revolution. University of Chicago Press, 1987. ISBN: 9780226708966.

Arendt, Hannah. On Revolution. Penguin Classics, 2006. ISBN: 9780143039907. [Preview with Google Books]

6 Revolutionary Liberty (II)

The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, August 26, 1789.

Constant, Benjamin. “The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with the Moderns (1819).”


Ozouf, Mona. “Liberty.” In A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution. Edited by François Furet and Mona Ozouf. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Belknap Press, 1989. ISBN: 9780674177284. [Preview with Google Books]

de Tocqueville, Alexis. Tocqueville: The Ancien Régime and the French Revolution. Edited by Jon Elster. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780521889803. [Preview with Google Books]

7 Modern Valuations of Liberty as the Ultimate Political and Economic Good (I)

Mill, John Stuart. Excerpts from On Liberty (1859).

[S] Hayek, Friedrich A. Selections from “The Constitution of Liberty.”


Khilnani, Sunil. “The Development of Civil Society.” Chapter 1 in Civil Society: History and Possibilities. Edited by Sudipta Kaviraj and Sunil Khilnani. Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780521002905. [Preview with Google Books]

Gellner, Ernest. Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society and its Rivals. Viking Adult, 1994. ISBN: 9780713991147.

Ehrenberg, John. Civil Society: The Critical History of an Idea. New York University Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780814722077. [Preview with Google Books]

8 Modern Valuations of Liberty as the Ultimate Political and Social Good (II)

xBLACKxOPSxSECRETSx. Martin Luther King - I Have A Dream Speech - August 28. 1963 (Full Speech). January 21, 2013. YouTube.

[S] Friedman, Milton and Rose. Selections from “Free to Choose.”

[S] Nozick, Robert. Selections from “Anarchy, State, and Utopia.”


Berlin, Isaiah. “Two Concepts of Liberty.” In Liberty. Edited by Henry Hardy. Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780199249893.

Friedman, Milton. Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition. University of Chicago Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780226264219. [Preview with Google Books]

Sunstein, Cass R., and Richard H. Thaler. “Libertarian Paternalism.” The American Economic Review 93, no. 2 (2003): 175–79.

Fried, Charles. Modern Liberty and the Limits of Government. W. W. Norton, 2007. ISBN: 9780393330458.

9 Complementary or Contradictory Ideals (I): Property

[S] Locke, John. Selections from “Second Treatise of Government.”

Alexander, Gregory S., Eduardo M. Penalver, et al. “A Statement of Progressive Property.” Cornell Law Review 94, no. 4 (2009): 743–44.


Banner, Stuart. American Property: A History of How, Why, and What We Own. Harvard University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780674058057. [Preview with Google Books]

Radin, Margaret Jane. Reinterpreting Property. University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780226702285. [Preview with Google Books]

Epstein, Richard A. Design for Liberty: Private Property, Public Administration, and the Rule of Law. Harvard University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780674061842. [Preview with Google Books]

10 Complementary or Contradictory Ideals (II): Equality and Distributive Justice

[S] Rawls, John. Selections from “A Theory of Justice.”

[S] Nozick, Robert. Excerpt from “Anarchy, State, and Utopia.”


de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Library of America, 2004, pp. 105–33. ISBN: 9781931082549. [Preview with Google Books]

Marshall, T. H. Citizenship and Social Class, and Other Essays. University Press, 1950.

Dahrendorf, Ralf. The Modern Social Conflict: The Politics of Liberty. 2nd ed. Transaction Publishers, 2012. ISBN: 9781412847582. [Preview with Google Books]

11 Complementary or Contradictory Ideals (III): Communitarianism and Civic Republicanism

[S] MacIntyre, Alasdair. Selections from “After Virtue.”

[S] Sandel, Michael J. Selections from “Democracy’s Discontent.”

[S] Walzer, Michael. Selections from “Spheres of Justice.”


Pettit, Philip. Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government. Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780198296423.

Tönnies, Ferdinand. Community and Civil Society. Edited by Jose Harris. Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780521567824. [Preview with Google Books]

Fallon, Jr., Richard H. “What Is Republicanism, and Is It Worth Reviving?Harvard Law Review 102, no. 7 (1989): 1695–735.

Pettit, Philip. A Theory of Freedom: From the Psychology to the Politics of Agency. Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780195218329. [Preview with Google Books]

Part Two: Case Studies in the Rise of Modern Liberty / Libertarianism
Slavery and Abolition (Paradoxes of Property and Personal Freedom)
12 Chattel Slavery and the “Freedom Principle”

Morgan, Edmund S. “Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox.” Journal of American History 59, no. 1 (1972): 5–29.

Somerset, James. The Somerset Case. Howell’s State Trials 20, 1772.


Virginia’s Slave Codes, 1705.

Le Code Noir, 1685.

Peabody, Sue, and Keila Grinberg. Slavery, Freedom, and the Law in the Atlantic World: A Brief History with Documents. Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2007. ISBN: 9780312411763.

13 Antislavery and Liberty (I)

The Other Revolution: Haiti, 1789–1804.” The John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.

Brown, Christopher. “The Problems of Slavery.” Chapter 23 in The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution. Edited by Edward G. Gray and Jane Kamensky. Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780190257767.

14 Antislavery and Liberty (II)

The Emancipation Proclamation.” 1863.

The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, 1865 and 1868, Constitution of the United States.

McPherson, James. James M. McPherson Lecture: “‘For a Vast Future Also’: Lincoln and the Millennium.” Jefferson Lecture, March 27, 2000. National Endowment for the Humanities.


Foner, Eric. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. W. W. Norton & Company, 2011. ISBN: 9780393340662.

Oakes, James S. Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861–1865. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014. ISBN: 9780393347753.

Freedom of the Spirit: Belief, Conduct, and the First Amendment
15 The First Amendment Religion Clauses and “Freedom of Conscience”

Rakove, Jack. “Jefferson, Rights, and the Priority of Freedom of Conscience.” Chapter 3 in The Future of Liberal Democracy: Thomas Jefferson and the Contemporary World. Edited by Robert Fatton and R. K. Ramzani. Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. ISBN: 9781403965653.

Madison, James. “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments.” June 20, 1785.

Jefferson, Thomas. “82. A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, 18 June 1779.”

16 The Rise of Free Exercise in Modern America

Gordon, Sarah Barringer. “The New Constitutional World: An Introduction.” Chapter 1 in The Spirit of the Law: Religious Voices and the Constitution in Modern America. Belknap Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780674046542. [Preview with Google Books]

Reynolds v. United States (1878).

Sherbert v. Verner (1963).


Laycock, Douglas. Religious Liberty, Vol. 1: Overviews & History. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010. ISBN: 9780802864659. [Preview with Google Books]

———. Religious Liberty, Vol. 2: The Free Exercise Clause. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011. ISBN: 9780802865229.

17 Religious Accommodation and Civil Rights Today

Employment Division, Oregon Department of Human Resources v. Smith (1990).

Amicus Brief by Douglas Laycock in the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Case. (PDF)

Amicus Brief by Julian Bond in the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Case. (PDF)


Laylock, Douglas. “Sex, Atheism, and the Free Exercise of Religion.” (PDF) University of Detroit Mercy Law Review 88, no. 3 (2011): 407–32.

From Civil Liberties to Civil Libertarianism
18 The Creation of the Modern American Civil Liberties Movement

The Bill of Rights (1791).

Abrams v. United States (1919).

Witt, John F. “Crystal Eastman and the Internationalist Beginnings of American Civil Liberties.” Duke Law Journal 54, no. 3 (2004): 705–63.


Capozzola, Christopher. Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen. Oxford University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780199734795.

19 The First Amendment and Free Speech

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943).

Kors, Alan Charles, and Harvey A. Silverglate. The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses. Harper Perennial, 1999. ISBN: 9780060977726. [Preview with Google Books]

Waldron, Jeremy. “Free Speech and the Menace of Hysteria.” New York Review of Books, May 29, 2008.


Stone, Geoffrey. Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime, from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism. W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. ISBN: 9780393327458.

Part Three: Liberty and the Contemporary Administrative-regulatory State
Counter-terrorism and Health Care
20 The National Security Agency’s Phone Surveillance Program

Excerpts from the following materials relating to Klayman v. Obama (2013):

Savage, Charlie. “Obama to Call for End to N. S. A.’s Bulk Data Collection,” New York Times, March 24, 2014.


Cole, David. Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism. The New Press, 2003. ISBN: 9781565848009.

Goldsmith, Jack. The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration. W. W. Norton & Company, 2009. ISBN: 9780393335330.

21 Obamacare National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012) (PDF)
The Financial Markets
22 The Origins of the 2008 Financial Crisis

“Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report: Conclusions of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.” (PDF)

Hennessey, Keith, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, et al. “Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis: Dissenting Statement.” (PDF)

Wallison, Peter J. “Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Dissenting Statement.” (PDF) 2011, pp. 443–70.


French, Kenneth R., Martin N. Bailey, et al. The Squam Lake Report: Fixing the Financial System. Princeton University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9781405125048.

Tett, Gillian. Fool’s Gold: The Inside Story of J. P. Morgan and How Wall St. Greed Corrupted Its Bold Dream and Created a Financial Catastrophe. Free Press, 2010. ISBN: 9781439100134. [Preview with Google Books]

Taylor, John B. Getting Off Track: How Government Actions and Interventions Caused, Prolonged, and Worsened the Financial Crisis. Hoover Institution Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780817949716. [Preview with Google Books]

Taylor, John B. “The Financial Crisis and the Policy Reponses: An Empirical Analysis of What Went Wrong.” (PDF) November 2008.

23 Efficient Markets and the Derivatives Debate

Fox, Justin. “Gene Fama Makes the Best Proposition in Economics.” Chapter 6 in The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street. HarperBusiness, 2011. ISBN: 9780060599034. [Preview with Google Books]

Stout, Lynn A. “The Legal Origin of the 2008 Credit Crisis.” 2011, UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 11–05.

Internet Freedom
24 The Power of Private Regulation Goldsmith, Jack, and Timothy Wu. “Digital Borders.” Legal Affairs, January / February 2006.
25 Boundaries of the Internet Benkler, Yochai. “Summary Chapter 1.” In The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780300110562. 
26 The Case of Aaron Swartz

Abelson, Harold, Peter A. Diamond, et al. “Report to the President: MIT and the Prosecution of Aaron Swartz.” (PDF) July 26, 2013, pp. 11–15, 16–28, and 89–101.


Swartz, Aaron. “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto.” July 2008.

United States of America v. Aaron Swartz – Criminal Document 53 (September 12, 2012).

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
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